Russia accuses Ukrainian saboteurs of attacking Europe's largest nuclear plant

Zaporizhzhia under Russian control since Feb. 28, Kyiv wanted to use incident to malign Moscow, says Defense Ministry.

Russia accuses Ukrainian saboteurs of attacking Europe's largest nuclear plant

A Ukrainian sabotage group attempted “a provocation” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, which Kyiv wanted to use to malign Moscow, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday. 

A band of “Ukrainian nationalists” opened heavy fire at Russian soldiers guarding the plant on Thursday night, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a news briefing in Moscow.

The attackers fired from a training complex at the site and wanted to draw a response from Russian forces that would endanger Europe’s largest nuclear facility, he said.

“Russian personnel used small arms to suppress the attack. No heavy weapons were used because of the potential danger to the plant,” Konashenkov said.

He said the Ukrainian saboteurs set fire to the training complex while escaping, but the blaze was quickly extinguished by firefighters.

“At the time of the provocation, none of the employees of the power plant were in the training building,” he added.

Regular operations have resumed at the plant, with staff manning all facilities and monitoring radiation levels, which are normal, according to Konashenkov.

The spokesman also rebuffed claims by Ukrainian authorities that Zaporizhzhia came under Russian control on Thursday night, asserting that Russian forces had taken over the plant and its nearby territory on Feb. 28.

He said Ukrainian forces posted there had abandoned the area and “disappeared” before Russian troops arrived.  

'Attempt to malign Moscow'

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wanted to use the “Kyiv regime’s provocation” at Zaporizhzhia to accuse Russia of creating a radioactive zone, the Defense Ministry official said.

“The statements that came promptly from Zelenskyy about the alleged threat to a nuclear power plant and his negotiations with Washington and London leave no doubt (about his intentions),” said Konashenkov.

“The purpose of the Kyiv regime’s provocation at the nuclear facility was to accuse Russia of creating a hotbed of radioactive contamination.”

Following Thursday night’s incident at Zaporizhzhia, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine said there were no changes in radiation levels at the nuclear facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency also said the blaze at the plant “has not affected essential equipment.”

Last week, Ukraine said it lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the country’s north after a fierce battle with Russian forces.

Ukraine has 15 operational nuclear reactors at four sites across the country, providing roughly half of its electricity, all of which are operating normally, according to its nuclear regulatory agency.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Mart 2022, 20:41

Hüseyin Demir

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